Thursday 09 May 2013

Bible Book:

Luke 24:44-53 Thursday 9 May 2013


Today's passage tells the storyof the final post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to his disciplesin Luke's Gospel. Jesus opens their minds to understand Scripture(verse 45), commissions them to proclaim repentance and forgiveness(verse 46), blesses them and then ascends into heaven (verse50-51). The author of Luke's Gospel will take up the story again atthe beginning of the book of Acts, with further post-resurrectionappearances over 40 days. It is that tradition of a celebration ofJesus' ascension to heaven 40 days after the Resurrection thatgives us the feast kept today by Christians of many traditions.

The Ascension marks the end ofJesus' ministry on earth, and the beginning of the Church'smission. Significantly, Jesus in today's passage is at pains tomake clear to his disciples that what is happening is thefulfilment of the law and prophets (verses 44-46). There is nodiscontinuity with the tradition in which they have beennurtured.

He refers to "… everythingwritten about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms"(v. 44), teaching the disciples to read those Scriptures throughthe lens of his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. There isan expectation in today's passage that in order to understand theScripture the disciples' eyes must be "opened" by God'sintervention.

Given that Jesus is at pains tolink his work with the record of the law and prophets, it isappropriate that the pattern of his ascension follows the patternof the departure of figures like Elijah (2Kings 2:11). Though an extraordinary scene, it is not writtenas a mystical or dreamlike tale: Jesus lifts his hands in blessing,withdraws, and the disciples return to the city with joy.

The tradition is that at theAscension, Jesus is freed from history and able to be intimatelypresent in all times and places. In the words of Brian Wren's hymn"Christ is alive" (297 in Singing the Faith),Jesus is "no longer bound to distant years in Palestine, butsaving, healing, here and now, and touching every place andtime".

To Ponder

  • How do you respond to the idea that our eyes must be "opened"to be able to understand Scripture?
  • What does "blessing" mean to you, and when have you experiencedit?
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